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Jools & Chris D--28 Nov, Albert Hall

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  • Tia Cox
    Greetings. Although it s quite late, I thought I d give one of my endlessly long reviews ---more of an as-if-you-were-there account-of the first Royal Albert
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 1, 2002
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      Greetings. Although it's quite late, I thought I'd give one of my endlessly
      long 'reviews'---more of an as-if-you-were-there account-of the first Royal
      Albert Hall show, on Thursday, 28 November. In the old days, I would go to
      both concerts, but now I'm starting to have more respect for my debts and
      have to make do with one breathtakingly brilliant concert rather than two.
      Well, I am pushing 40, after all; I can't put too much pressure on the old
      ticker! Although one thing that a glance around the audience of about 5,000
      people the other night demonstrated was that Jools appeals to all ages, as
      the crowd comprised children as well as people in their late 60s. So few
      people can make that kind of claim!

      Anyway, if anyone doesn't want to hear about this in excruciating detail,
      look away now, and hit that handy delete button. Only the truly brave and
      strong-stomached should attempt this; seriously, I tend to wander off on
      tangents and this will probably be the longest message you've ever received.
      I'm also sorry to say that I can't give an accurate setlist-perhaps some of
      you could fill in the gaps-but I will put the Cliff Notes version at the end
      of this, so page down (lots) if you're just interested in seeing what songs
      I think were played. Take note that I waited until the end of the
      fire-fighter strike in case any of you bothered to print off all 3,658 pages
      of this and then ended up setting fire to it in frustration.

      Having booked in February to ensure that I got good seats, I have had a long
      time to look forward to this night. Sadly, the Jools-loving friend I bought
      the other ticket for couldn't make it at the last minute, so I ended up
      taking a Jools-virgin colleague. I became a bit worried when she took
      earplugs out of her handbag and popped them in place-not when the brass of
      the Orchestra were playing, which I could almost understand when dealing
      with a novice to the experience, but rather when the opening act came on and
      played their first notes. That consisted of a piano and acoustic guitar.
      Oh dear.

      I had assumed that Chris Difford and his gang would be the support act, and
      we raced past the sign with the timings so quickly upon arrival at the
      Albert Hall that I was still expecting him to take the stage when I heard
      someone announce the person taking the stage as 'Chris', but it was Jools'
      brother Chris Holland, who has, like his older brother, played with Squeeze
      as well. Although I had been looking forward to another session of Squeeze
      hits and songs off Chris D's new album that were written to show off his
      baritone voice better than any of the old hits did, I was fortunate enough
      to catch his show at the Docklands in the Spring, so I coped with the

      As for Chris Holland, I'd only heard him sing the occasional song with his
      brother's Orchestra, such as Todd Rundgren's 'I Saw the Light,' and though
      he sounded great, I thought his voice was slightly on the weak side, and I
      was never moved enough to buy his album. Now he has a new one out that,
      based upon his flawless performance here, I will be happy to get. Though he
      did lose many brownie points by tricking the more gullible in the audience
      (not me, of course!)----or those with understandable faith in his brother's
      star-pulling power----into thinking that Ray Charles was about to join him
      on stage. In any case, his songs were now more solid and interesting and
      his voice has become much stronger. I am still amazed by how similar his
      speaking manner and voice are to Jools, and of course he knows his way
      around a piano, as well. He was joined by a wonderfully talented man (whose
      name I didn't catch) on the acoustic guitar and occasionally mandolin, and I
      felt heartened to notice that he was a man easily in his 50s rather than
      some trendy young thing, so the Holland tradition of finding marvellous
      musicians without prejudice carries on throughout the family. The time
      seemed to disappear, and shortly after Chris and his furry (bearded) friend
      took to the stage, they seemed to leave us.

      Before we had a chance to go check out the merchandise on offer, apart from
      the £5 programme they were selling in the Hall that is one of the better
      value programmes I've come across recently as it is full of lovely photos
      and details on the band members, Jools and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra took
      the stage at about 8.20pm. We were on the left side of the Arena in front
      of Jools' side of the stage, so we had a fine view of his Technicolored
      dream stool and his hands whipping over the ivories. Still, the screen
      behind the band was so sensibly co-ordinated this year, that we still would
      have had a great view from way up in the Gods. New technology means that
      there were teeny seemingly invisible cameras all around the stage that were
      masterfully operated remotely, giving us fabulous views of the band at
      various times and of Jools' magical fingers. It looked wonderful and was so
      much more useful than just showing artsy images or album covers, like many
      acts do with their screens.

      Jools, who began with his usual enquiry as to our readiness to boogie, was
      decked out in a dark grey suit, as was pretty much everyone in the
      Orchestra. They all looked particularly dapper on this night, everyone with
      smart haircuts as though they were spruced up for a super special occasion.
      Youthful looking Gilson Lavis---it seems no way that man was ever as ill as
      he was (thank goodness he's the picture of health, it's an
      inspiration)---has his name proudly scrawled on the bass drum in case we
      could ever forget this person who has worked with Jools for decades.

      The latter got to work on his grand piano (which is called Ian, I
      understand, and one mustn't be too soft with him) and bashed out a piece
      that started to sound a bit like Dr Jazz (my all-time favourite; thank
      goodness it's on the Live album) but led elsewhere. One of my many
      treasured aspects of that truly brilliant ensemble piece is the fact that
      the whole band sings, and they did so here, adding the odd 'Choo choo'
      before they joined in playing on HAMP'S BOOGIE. It was a wonderful tribute
      to its composer, jazz treasure Lionel Hampton, who sadly died this summer
      (and George Bush Sr, one of the many presidents with whom he came in regular
      contact, was one of the many who paid tribute to him). Hampton had played
      with all the greats over the years-from Louis Armstrong to Quincy Jones--
      and made the Benny Goodman Quartet the first racially integrated jazz
      ensemble when he joined. Trust Jools to work Hampton's signature tune into
      his own act; the thought was touching, the implementation was overwhelmingly

      When they finished that first number, Sam Brown joined them on stage,
      wearing the same black outfit she had worn on the BBC's Later..With Jools
      Holland last week: a button-front bustier, trousers, a long-sleeved
      crocheted cardi, a serious beaded necklace and cap. The band launched into
      the foot-stomping, heart-stopping I'M GONE, which I've always preferred live
      compared to the album version featuring Paul Weller. Much as I adored the
      Jam and the Style Council once upon a time, I've rather adjusted to the
      version with the blasting vocals of Sam Brown joining Jools and the band,
      and of course, she plays a mean tambourine.. During the organ solo by
      Christopher Holland (who must have already been quite tired, as it was his
      second gig of the evening, though it didn't show), elder brother Jools left
      his piano, got the audience clapping and wandered over to check out his
      brother's handiwork. They never played together on one keyboard on this
      night, but I've never found that Jools' concerts are ones where you walk
      away disappointed about what you missed; they are always fun-filled parties
      that you feel excited to have attended.

      The astounding sax solo was provided by, I'm quite certain, Phil
      Veacock----I say that with caution because, though I dweebily made a note of
      the set list since I have the memory of a goldfish, I generally failed to
      note down important things like the names of the soloists because I got
      carried away in the excitement of enjoying the evening. However, I'm almost
      certain that this was the occasion when Phil stepped forward to the mike
      centre stage that is reserved for soloists, and played a blinding array of
      notes, often using only one hand on his tenor sax. I must say that Phil
      impresses me no end. He does almost all the arranging for the full
      orchestra these days, he's obviously a marvellous talent with his sax, a
      brief foray onto the Jools discussion list some years ago proved that he's
      an intelligent and totally friendly soul, and he seems to be unofficial
      Deputy MC to Jools during the live shows. Every second that he's not
      playing, he is raising his hands in the air to get us all clapping, cheering
      on his fellow artists or providing some backing vocals. He seems to have
      the energy of an atom bomb, but directs it into far more useful activities!

      Mind you, one of the most amazing things about everyone in this Orchestra is
      that they have an endless supply of energy. They stand constantly
      throughout these gigs, sometimes run up to the centre for quick solos, join
      in with percussion whenever they are not otherwise occupied, and constantly
      cheer on their colleagues. It all demonstrates clearly that Jools not only
      knows how to pick 'em, but he must be the best employer around, as he keeps
      a load of happy campers who clearly adore their jobs. He works them hard, I
      know, but he also keeps it all exciting by letting them contribute in
      various ways, giving them each a starring role at some point in the evening,
      and never ever failing to name-check them so that everyone knows exactly who
      played the solo we all just admired.

      After I'm Gone finished, Jools asked if we were ready to experience what we
      were about to experience. It's fair to say that we were, and Jools said
      'let's meet the band,' which raised a cheer, but didn't involve an
      individual introduction of each member who then gave a sample of his wares,
      as has been done in the past. Jools started off AVENUE C with a long,
      peppy stint on the piano joined only by his rhythm section, the towering
      Dave Swift on bass guitar and the might Gilson on high-hat and cymbals.
      Sam had disappeared, as this was an instrumental, and Roger Goslyn took the
      limelight with a terrific trombone solo centre stage before Phil came up
      behind him and took over with another masterful solo on the saxophone.
      After that, Aussie trumpeter Jason McDermid treated us to a phenomenal solo
      on my favourite instrument, the trumpet, sounding as though he belonged to
      the big band era with the likes of Louis Armstrong. Jason never fails to
      look alert and excited, and he seems to turn up in all sorts of places----I
      seem to recall seeing him play in some late night talk show some years ago,
      and I feel certain that he helped out writer/comedian Tony Hawks during his
      recent Discovery Channel series in which he sought to get a hit single
      somewhere in the world.

      Jason was joined up front by Pete Long, who had traded his alto sax for a
      clarinet that he was evidently born to play, squeaking out notes so high
      that only dogs and Benny Goodman's ghost could hear them. Understandably,
      as the magnificent notes of this tune faded, so did the usual London seated
      audience reserve. It dissolved completely as most of the audience-even the
      elder statesmen and the folk several tiers up--leapt up to give the
      Orchestra's performance the raucous cheer it deserved.

      As Sam Brown returned to the stage, the marvellous screen of magic images
      behind it was covered over with blue curtains riddled with fairy lights,
      giving the effect of twilight. She sang OUT OF THIS WORLD, which is
      performed on the new album by Chrissie Hynde, who co-wrote it. Although the
      whole orchestra was kept busy, the slower pace of this song let them perhaps
      catch their breath a bit, whilst Sam's voice belted out the lyrics with
      impossible strength for such a minute person. Perhaps because I heard the
      live version first (my copy of the new CD arrived the day of the concert),
      I believe I prefer it; it's not quite so sleepy, though the star quality of
      Chrissie Hynde is, of course, an added extra on the recorded version.

      Sam next took the place of Dionne Warwick, who sings WHAT GOES AROUND on the
      new album, again belting out the lyrics like nobody else. Despite her
      apparent lack of psychic friends, Sam did an amazing job of standing in for
      Dionne, aptly backed up on vocals by much of the band, who were also busy
      creating rhythm with their egg shakers when not attending to other matters.
      The starlight curtains disappeared so that we could get a great view of the
      band members from all angles on the screen at the back again, and we all had
      a thoroughly enjoyable time clapping and humming along. When we all
      finished with our various contributions, Sam left the stage and Jools
      introduced the next song.

      Here's the first place where I get quite lost with the set list. I could
      have sworn that Jools said they were about to do a song by Albert Adams, who
      was no longer with us but would no doubt be delighted that his song would be
      played in the Albert Hall. Perhaps I was getting confused by the name of
      the venue, perhaps he said nothing of the sort and the name was Bartholomew
      Skifflewood or something. After all, the brass do play loudly and those of
      us who didn't bring earplugs (as if) might have been legally deaf by now. I
      have since given the matter a lot of thought and decided, for a while, that
      perhaps Jools had said Milton Ebbins, which might have made sense, but it
      really doesn't sound much like Albert Adams. I even briefly considered
      Ansel Adams and Herb Alpert, but frankly I give up. My mind was clearly
      otherwise engaged at the time with thoughts à la 'Oh boy! I'm at a Jools
      Holland concert!' to listen carefully like a good girl. Consequently, I can
      't tell you what song by photographer Ansel Adams or the like Jools played,
      but I believe he did a solo stretch on the piano, as I remember young
      Christopher, who had been gradually stripping off parts of his three-piece
      suit (but stopped at shirt and trousers-sorry to disappoint), wandering
      around the area behind his organ, as Mark Flanagan sank to the ground for a
      bit with his guitar silenced. Whoever's song it was, Jools did a remarkable
      job of it, pounding away at Ian to an otherwise subdued rhythm, then
      drifting up to the high keys and creating a jazzy player-piano effect.

      The Orchestra then joined in as Jools moved to the very low keys of the
      grand piano, launching into Count Basie's MR ROBERT'S ROOST (I think). I
      have to say that I've only ever heard Count Basie play this number (on
      record, of course), and as my vinyl collection has sadly been living with a
      friend in the States since I left there long ago, I couldn't whip this out
      to play it and ensure that's what I heard at this stage in the concert.
      Jools' Orchestra's more modern version would be different anyway, but my
      guess is that this is the Count Basie number they played. The band was
      absolutely terrific, whatever it was. Jools topped off the song by
      reminding us that he'd just treated us to a Count Basie song and taunted me
      by saying that, before that number, they had played a song by that
      (infuriatingly mysterious) Adams type person again (Gomez Addams, perhaps?).
      Forgive my ignorance; no doubt it's some jazz or blues legend I should know,
      but I've even glanced over all of my Great Dead Pianists compilations and
      have found nothing. I went to ask my friend if she'd heard what Jools had
      said, but she couldn't hear me for the earplugs in her ears.

      She did later explain that they allowed her to hear the Orchestra perfectly
      but cut out all the chatter around her, which made me a bit envious. The
      couple in front of me was so intent on talking to each other throughout the
      evening that they continually had to shout over that annoying din coming
      from the stage that kept disturbing their conversation. Eventually,
      surprisingly, they got up and went closer to the stage to dance (or to ask
      Jools to keep it down, I didn't see which), which was more than fine with

      Jools then announced that they were going to play a song he had written with
      Dr John (at least I heard that one clearly!). I have to confess to another
      disability seeping in here though, as I often get Dr John confused with Dr
      Hook, so for a second I wasn't sure whether Jools & Co were going to kick
      into a cover of Freakin' at the Freakers' Ball, a song I apparently sang
      along with when I was about six whenever my pater played the Sloppy Seconds
      album. Nevertheless, that didn't frighten him enough to pack me off to a
      convent, perhaps because we're neither Catholic nor particularly religious.
      Nor did Jools frighten me by performing Freakers' Ball here. Instead, of
      course, it was THE HAND THAT CHANGED IT'S MIND, performed on the first Small
      World Big Band album by Dr John (not Hook or Spock). Jools began singing
      about his indecisive yet healthy and sober hand, as both of his worked
      wonders on the piano, until Sam strolled on and sang Dr John's part. This
      song was of the same school as Jump For Joy, and the band became
      increasingly busy and eventually were going as wild on the stage as we were
      for them in the audience. Sam wandered off stage again as the unflappable
      Mark Flanagan treated us to an electric guitar solo----something I never
      fail to enjoy when he's playing but cannot stand in most other cases. I
      suppose I like jazz and blues guitar but not the Bon Jovi type specials. I
      even bought Mark's album when he opened for Jools at last year's Albert Hall
      concert, after hearing his wonderful funeral song Carry Me Down real slow
      (not that I'm placing orders for that particular music selection as yet,
      touch wood). Jools ended this song by jumping up at the end, hands in the
      air, and the crowd just dissolved in a frenzy.

      As if I don't sound confused enough, we now hit another point in the
      programme where I'm unsure of the setlist. At this stage, the huge screen
      behind the band stopped showing snippets of Jools' hands made 20 feet tall
      or aerial shots of all the band, and instead an old black and white photo of
      a man's head was posted up there. At first, I thought how nice it was to
      see a young Gene Kelly, one of my favourites. I wasn't sure why they wanted
      to pay tribute to a great dead dancer at that point, without acknowledging
      him in any other way, but perhaps since it was a black and white photo, this
      was a tribute to Ansel Adams, in tandem with the sixth song they played.
      Er, no, maybe not. So the mystery photo remained as Jools introduced the
      astonishingly talented trumpeter Jon Scott, reggae legend trombonist Rico
      Rodriguez, and skilled saxophonist (who seems to excel in jazzy reggae
      pieces) Michael 'Bammi' Rose, who would all feature during the next song.
      Jools didn't introduce the song, though, and the band just launched into a
      marvellously appealing reggae/ska beat which picked up speed as it neared
      the end, after amazing solos by Bammi, Rico and then Jon. Jon's trumpet hit
      surely record-breaking high notes, which made me start to think that perhaps
      the photo was Chet Baker pre-troubles, and the song was a cover of something
      he had done.

      There's nothing like a gig that leaves you thinking afterwards, is there,
      even if I'm thinking nonsense? I dismissed the Chet Baker theory, as after
      examining one of my CDs, I decided that the Albert Hall photo really looked
      nothing like Chet Baker at any stage. Then when I realised that Jools & Co
      had apparently played in (one of my favourite cities) Belfast the theme from
      DR KILDARE, known as Three Stars Will Shine Tonight, I decided that that is
      possibly what they played here. The photo could easily have been a very
      young Richard Chamberlain, before his face got lost in facial hair, in his
      early role as the good doctor (not to be confused with Dr Hook or Dr John).
      If so, they certainly livened up what I am pretty sure was a slow and soppy
      song, but I may be completely wrong about the title-I will happily be
      corrected and have my mind put to rest.

      Next, Jools invited 'another guest' to the stage---Sam Brown apparently
      still has guest status, though I had accepted her as a card-carrying member
      of the orchestra by now. Not one to psyche us out like his mischievous
      younger brother, Jools came through with a marvellous guest, soul and R&B
      diva Ruby Turner. I thought they might perform Wang Dang Doodle, as they
      have both recorded the song, but instead the band rushed into a
      big-sounding, quick boogie-woogie number that saw Turner racing around as
      though she were our own private Aretha Franklin. Mark Flanagan played a
      jangly guitar solo as though he were Chuck Berry's son, and Jools' face kept
      twisting into enthusiastic beams and smiles as he did delightful things to
      his piano accompanied by his merry band. As for identifying the song, I
      can only recall that Ruby sang a line near the beginning about her man being
      a country man. That wasn't enough of a clue for me; perhaps someone else
      can help. The song was racing so that the whole band looked exhausted when
      they finished, which is surely an unusual sight, no matter how often they
      have reason to look that way.

      Ruby remained for the next number, a slower one to help everyone catch their
      breath, and Sam slipped on stage again to help with backing vocals. They
      performed NOBODY BUT YOU, Ruby's contribution to the first Small World Big
      Band album. The twilight curtain reappeared behind the band, and the number
      turned out so gorgeous that Ruby got a standing ovation from much of the
      crowd as she left the stage. I've seen Ruby perform on Jools' television
      show many times, but she is 20 times as moving when she's performing live
      before you.

      Switching to the new album, the band played the song performed on it (and
      spectacularly on Jools' Later last week) by Edwin Starr called SNOWFLAKE
      BOOGIE. The crowd and the Orchestra were both uncontrollably jumping
      around to this phenomenal tune written by Jools, as he took over the vocals,
      aided as always by Sam. Normally the Albert Hall has loads of ushers
      rushing up to clear the aisles of any ill-advised dancers----we were in the
      middle of a fire-fighters strike, after all, so you would think they'd be
      more nervous than ever about blocking fire exits. But instead, the one near
      me, well into her 60s, was tapping her feet, and I think the venue always
      knows it will never ever win this battle when Jools is in town, so they didn
      't bother to try. Pretty much everyone was up and dancing, even the people
      in the scary mountaintop seats well above us. Phil took us even further
      with an absolutely stunning, speedy solo on his tenor sax, leading into
      another wonderful special by Mark on the guitar. When the song finished,
      you could almost hear the huge mental 'wow!' descend upon the Hall, as no
      one could have been thinking anything different. I can already tell that
      this is a song that I'll be blasting on the stereo whenever I need to have a
      secret head-shaking dance around the room (everyone should some time). I
      also might have to add it to the alternative Christmas compilations I make
      near Christmas time, just to liven up the proceedings amongst the Bing and
      Band Aid numbers (sometimes anything that mentions snow qualifies..otherwise
      you get too much Boney M). Long may it reign in Jools' setlist; it
      CULTIVATES excitement.

      Staying with the new album, the orchestra next performed TEARDROPS FROM MY
      EYES, which is covered by George Benson on More Friends, but Jools took over
      marvellously during the live version. He introduced it by saying they
      should play the blues for a bit, and it must have been a surprise to the
      band because they all quickly, but calmly, started flicking through the
      pages on their music stands until they found the music for this one. Then,
      as if he were just making it up as he went along, Jools announced that he
      thought there should be a solo during this track by Lisa and Nick, and he
      asked if we (if not they) were happy with that. Jools sang wonderfully, and
      this number got better and faster. As Mark remained sitting, smoothly and
      calmly plucking away at his guitar, Jools started playing almost worryingly
      in a Tori Amos stance, ie half facing the audience by twisting on his stool,
      but he didn't quite lean over seductively as she does, I'm relieved to say;
      he was just sharing our fun. Newish boy Nick Lunt, looking smartly like he
      just stepped out of a big band of yesteryear, came forward to the centre
      mike to show us his talents on the baritone saxophone. I was a big Paul
      Bartholomew fan, so you would think I wouldn't warm to his
      replacements-first Pete Long, who later transferred to alto sax, and then
      Nick Lunt, but as I said, Jools knows how to pick 'em. He gets fun-loving
      people who enjoy their work and amaze us with their skills, and we all love
      them all.

      Lisa Graham started her solo on the alto sax possibly a second or so late,
      it seemed, because she had to queue for the microphone and there's no real
      changeover time allowed, but everyone was all smiles and just having fun.
      She hit some pretty high notes, and I noticed that, although they were in
      the back rather than highlighted up front, the three trumpeters hit some
      amazingly impressive high notes throughout this track. The whole thing
      came together wonderfully; everyone's contribution was magical.

      Without pausing long to let us recover, which was really fine with us, Jools
      began introducing the next guest as someone who was in Squeeze with him and
      Gilson, someone with a beautiful head of hair. On strolled the lovely Chris
      Difford with his guitar, wearing a dark jacket, orange tie and jeans (Chris
      was the one dressed, not the guitar, in case I've confused you there). Sam
      Brown and Chris' touring vocalist (who sensationally sings the Glenn
      Tilbrook parts on Squeeze songs, amongst other things), Doreen Jackson,
      joined the Orchestra on stage and smoothed things over with their lovely
      contributions. The song briefly started a bit like U2's New Year's Day,
      and then Chris' calm vocals eased into the number and carried us through a
      catchy, likeable song. This number is another example of how Chris can
      really sing wonderfully when performing a song written for his range, rather
      than just providing deep backing vocals forever (though he was great at
      that, too). The whole time they were all playing, Jools just sat on his
      piano stool, beaming away at his old friend Chris, which was heart-warming.

      Jools then wandered over to the harpsichord that was at the front of the
      opposite side of the stage by the brass section and started plucking out,
      unusually for a baroque instrument, a rather ska beat for a song that later
      revealed itself as the old Squeeze hit TAKE ME I'M YOURS. All the audience
      jumped up to dance about madly, having the times of their lives. At one
      point, Chris stepped backwards until he reached Gilson's drum set, where he
      hung out whilst Michael 'Bammi' Rose delivered an awesome solo on the tenor
      sax, and then Chris sweetly found a mike and announced 'Michael Rose on sax!
      ' to ensure that he got the applause he deserved.

      Meanwhile, Jools leaned way back in his stool, as he added a fascinating
      harpsichord riff to this classic, and got a good look around at the
      thousands of people that he'd driven to dancing all around the Hall.
      At one point, Chris and Doreen (I think she was still on stage, I was a bit
      overwhelmed by it all to take proper note) were left singing almost a
      cappella to Gilson's drum beat. Everyone applauded wildly when this song
      finished, and Chris left the stage.

      Jools then said some things that were a bit incomprehensible over the noise
      of the hugely excited crowd, but it seemed to be a proposal for a change of
      pace, and then he said that the band was looking worried as there was a bit
      of pressure on, which I'm sure couldn't possibly be true. He remained at
      the harpsichord, and I'm afraid that here again, I shall be unreliable in
      reporting the setlist. I love Beat Route and Dangerman equally and just got
      so excited when Jools launched into one of them that I forgot to take note
      of which one it was. I'm going to vote for DANGERMAN, as I don't think it
      was as breathlessly rapid as Beat Route, though it wasn't a sleeper either!
      Everyone's performance was wonderfully brilliant, and as Dave Swift
      delivered a fine solo on his bass guitar, Jools got up from the harpsichord
      and wandered over towards Dave on the other side of the stage, gently
      tapping out a handful of notes on the piano as he passed it. Nick Lunt
      contributed some fantastic baritone sax, and Phil stepped up with a
      soothing, late night jazz solo on the tenor sax, which he continued as Jools
      joined in at last on the piano, and they both finished the song. It was
      lovely, whatever it was!

      As he remained on his circular piano stool, Jools removed his jacket with
      one smooth sweeping motion, and tossed it well behind him on the floor,
      revealing a white shirt and trousers held up with braces, which he then
      undid (the braces, not the trousers) and let them hang by his sides. That
      was a fine introduction to the classic SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL. If anybody
      had remained seated at this point, they were sure to be jumping up now. The
      song was terrific fun throughout, and we had fabulous solos from Nick on the
      baritone sax, Alistair White on trombone (who reminds me a lot of Mark
      Lindup from Level 42), and Mark Flanagan doing another bit of Chuck Berry on

      When it finished, the crowd roared, and Jools teased us by saying, 'Do you
      wanna hear some more?' Naturally, we all said 'nah' and limped away in
      boredom. Or not. So Jools started working magic on the piano and the band
      joined in, with a particularly wonderful horn arrangement backing up Jools'
      incredible piano work, during some of which the band all clapped to the beat
      and watched in awe. Jools growled out the vocals for T-BAG SCUFFLE, which I
      used to think was a lovely little song about coming in from the cold to have
      a cup of tea. I now realise that T-bag is a nickname for co-writer Chris
      Difford, apparently referring to 'his chicken grease, London guitar style',
      according to Jools in his liner notes for Small World Big Band. So he's
      apparently 'London's boogie man' that the singer tells the listener to
      beware when down in Deptford or on the Strand. Remember that. I'm
      horrified to realise that I can't recall which trumpeter came forward and
      played the incredibly high notes in this song; I'm going to guess Jason, but
      it may well have been Jon. Even I, stuffy old fogie that I am, was pretty
      close to dancing by this time. Mark has a lovely guitar part in this piece,
      as well, and near then end, Jools crouched down on the floor, playing the
      piano keys above his head, and told us it was time to release the boogie
      inside every one of us, so as the trumpeter released an amazing performance,
      we all, having crouched down to the floor as well, leapt up in unison-even
      my earplugged friend joined in there; one must release the boogie, after
      all. It was a brilliant, terrifically joyful piece.

      Jools then explained that we needed to call Ruby again, and he got us all
      singing 'hey, yah, yah, yah', repeating after him as in Cab Calloway's
      Minnie the Moocher, and then assigning different parts to different
      sections, so that we were all singing 'What we want right now is---' or
      'Give us Ruby!'. Ruby Turner couldn't refuse thousands of enthusiastic
      voices, so she returned to the stage, belting out COUNT ME IN. At last we
      got to hear a solo from the newest trumpeter---but not new to Ruby, with
      whom he's played before amongst many other impressive names-----Chris Storr,
      who calmly strolled up to the mike with a Gilligan hat pulled well over his
      face and delivered a truly gorgeous part on the trumpet. With the vocals
      taken care of by his guest, Jools began walking around the stage, calling up
      to the cheaper seats high behind the stage, either side of the massive pipe
      organ pipes, 'hello, people in the restricted viewing area!'. He eventually
      explained that it was unfair for the sensational Ruby to have to do all the
      singing, and as the house lights came up upon us, he got us all to join in
      with the vocals, and even the previously feared strict ushers were playing
      along and singing. Once he was satisfied that we were happy with our role,
      Jools returned to his piano, as Deputy MC Phil took over the crowd control
      duties by clapping and encouraging us to do the same. Eventually, Ruby
      sensibly had enough of our singing and took over from us, until the song
      ended and everyone in the audience applauded enthusiastically, though not
      for ourselves, I'm sure. Exit Ruby.

      Next, Jools introduced Sam Brown again along with the fantabulous soul and
      gospel legend Sam Moore, the surviving partner of Sam & Dave, who had many
      hits in the 60s including Soul Man. Both Sams shared a mike up front,
      looking into each others eyes-though Sam Moore was decked out in
      shades-whilst belting out TOGETHER WE ARE STRONG. This powerful song off
      the new album really was brilliant and so lively. After this stupendous
      display of vocals, Chris Holland played a brilliant solo on the organ, which
      had everyone clapping to the beat. At the end of this terrific number, the
      Sams hugged each other and left the stage.

      Jools then led us with some boogie woogie piano into TUXEDO JUNCTION from
      the new album. Pete Long gave an admirable solo right away on the alto sax,
      then Phil joined in on tenor sax for an amazing arrangement that really
      brought this instrumental to vivid life. Pete finished up with another
      solo, before Jools jumped up and got the audience clapping even more. Jason
      then ran to the front with his trumpet in one hand and a trumpet mute in the
      other, which he applied to the trumpet on and off during an awesome solo.
      Nick had another sterling solo spot with his baritone saxophone, and all of
      the horns ended up just blaring away beautifully, until Gilson finished off
      the track with a flourish. The band then left the stage; it was 10pm.

      After a thankfully brief wait, Jools, Chris and the rhythm section came
      back on for the encore. As Jools started demonstrating his talents of
      engaging far off corners of the audience ('Are you going to boogie with us
      in the balcony?), the rest of the band slipped quietly onto the stage, and
      they launched into the fabulous GREY TO BLUE, with Jools providing
      marvellous vocals and Sam backing him up. The trombonists threw their arms
      in the air to get us to follow like a swaying Mexican wave stuck in the up
      position, which delighted everyone. Phil came forward with a wonderfully
      deep and moody part on the tenor sax, and at the end everyone gave the song
      the mass of cheers it deserved.

      Next, Jools invited all of his guests (we understood he didn't mean us
      though) back onto the stage, although sadly dear Chris Difford did not
      return. However, we did get Sam Moore, Sam Brown and Ruby Turner back to
      join Jools in performing WELL ALRIGHT, each doing a verse. Mark Flanagan
      took us back a few decades with an astounding rock 'n' roll solo on his
      guitar, then the delightfully dreadlocked Winston Rollins performed a
      marvellous solo on trombone. Winston turned out to be the Leo Green of
      trombone. Leo used to leap into the audience whilst playing sax and carry
      on doing so whilst rhythmically picking his way through the crowd until he
      eventually found his way out. You would think that wouldn't work with
      trombone, what with the slide and all, but Winston was rushing all around
      the stage, leaning way out over the audience and, uh, sliding over our
      heads. We didn't actually have to break his fall at any stage, as he
      sensibly kept his feet on the ground of the stage, but it was certainly a
      lively experience. When they all finished this terrific rendition of this
      now classic song, the band left us again.

      Jools returned soon and told us the programme for the rest of the evening:
      we would be hearing a waltz and then a frenzy. The others all joined him on
      stage, Sam took centre stage and the twilight curtains accordingly took
      their place over the screen behind her. Sam had lost her hat by this stage
      but, surprisingly, not any part of her marvellous voice, and she led us
      through the peaceful VALENTINE MOON. The song is lovely as far as waltzes
      go, and I'm sure it's terrific fun for Sam to sing a song that she co-wrote
      with Jools, but I can't say that this is anything like a favourite song of
      mine. Both this year and last, it was presented as though it were a real
      treat for us, and certainly this year, after all the life and boogie we'd
      been experiencing, it just left everyone still standing but not dancing and
      feeling a bit lost during quite a long slow interval. I do admit that it is
      pretty, but perhaps my love for 80s nostalgia these days had me wishing that
      a preferred alternative would be to have Phil orchestrate Sam's 80s hit
      Stop-which has worked with Marc Almond and Chris Difford. Stop was an
      extraordinary song that really showed off her voice and could be quite
      impressive with a slow, steamy build up of skilfully played horns. In any
      case, this rendition of Valentine Moon could not really be faulted, and it
      improved as it went along. Trombonist Roger Goslyn and some of the others
      helped with backing vocals, and Bammi gave a really strong flute solo at one
      stage. Then the trombone section started moving their instruments from side
      to side together in a bit of a slow dance to the music, which beautifully
      reflected the good spirits of the whole evening.

      When Sam left the stage, Jools announced that we would have one more guest
      tonight (so it's a good thing we brought them back for two encores, huh?).
      On marched amazing reggae legend Jimmy Cliff to perform his song from the
      new album, DREAMS. That song is the 21st track and still not the last
      one---all that fine music, all those guest stars, a skill-packed
      orchestra----talk about value for money! This song was a fabulous way to
      polish off the evening. Its brilliant reggae beat, the smooth crooning of
      Jimmy Cliff, and the wonderful music combined to make this catchy song even
      more memorable. A youthful Cliff stood front and centre wearing a bright
      red cap and bright everything else, physically looking whilst singing much
      like a pelican struggling to swallow a fish---arms pinned to his side, head
      back, neck stretched and head rocking from side to side. It was an amazing
      honour, really, to see this man at work, and in such grand company. Rico
      stood beside him to deliver a fine reggae trombone solo. This song is a bit
      like I'm in a Dancing Mood in terms of getting everyone to jump up and
      dance, probably even if they heard it on the radio rather than live.

      Jimmy Cliff left us, and the still thrilled and excited crowd were told
      vaguely by Jools that he and the Orchestra were going to leave us 'with a
      little piece we've got here' . HONEYDRIPPER burst onto the scene as though
      a train were coming through the Hall. The saxes sounded wonderful in unison
      and when all the brass joined in, the strength of the sound was astounding.
      You would have expected them all to be utterly exhausted by now, but every
      musician busied him or herself with playing a perfect part, as always, and
      looking as though they're having the best time ever, as we were. When the
      song dipped a bit, so did the lights, other than a huge spotlight on Gilson,
      who then launched into a truly awe-inspiring drum solo that, again, reminded
      me of something from Cab Calloway but became so much more energetic and
      spellbinding. He carried on whacking at the drums so long that the others
      slipped off for a break as he did so. This man has been playing drums for
      33 years and survived a heart attack; you would almost be expecting him to
      be taking it easy. But that clearly would not be his style and there doesn'
      t seem to be any need for it, as he must be terrifically fit to sustain
      these sort of demands. The crowd was duly appreciative of his amazing feat,
      and the others slipped back on and carried on playing after Jools led them
      back in with his legendary piano playing. Just when you would think Gilson'
      s arms were about to fall off, he had another---albeit briefer---solo on the
      drums almost immediately. Then all these wondrous musicians blasted their
      little hearts out and every one took a bow and left us at about 10.30pm.
      How on earth all those people can play so hard, standing for two hours
      without a break, is beyond me, but I'm continually astounded by them and
      love every bit of it.

      I wonder how many of us went to the concert hoping to see specific special
      guests based upon the possibilities presented by the latest album, such as
      Bryan Ferry and Ray Davies? How many brought extra knickers in case Tom
      Jones took the stage? How many of those were disappointed? None, I am
      certain of it. The only way the evening could have been made even remotely
      more intriguing would have been if perhaps Chris' electric organ had been
      somehow connected to the massive pipes for the Albert Hall's pipe organ
      behind him.

      The fun for everyone is watching these amazing, energetic musicians, who not
      only seem to have a brilliant time themselves and create a fun-filled party
      atmosphere for us, but they are technically sublime, experts in their
      crafts. They clearly work hard but seem to be well rewarded by Jools, and
      each of them gets a moment in the spotlight. Even the lighting directors
      must be congratulated in creating the smoothest of party atmospheres---they
      always knew exactly whom to illuminate when---even when doing so as Jools
      name checked people at the end of a song. The cameras projecting images
      onto the big screen behind them all was also perfectly managed.

      The night was the best Thanksgiving I've had since moving to London 13 years
      ago. It's almost time to book for next year's concert, and I can't wait. I
      'm so thankful that Jools carries on with this tradition and that so many
      members of his band stick by him so we can return to see them over and over
      again. On our way out, even my friend with the earplugs admitted to having
      been absolutely delighted by the breath-taking show. PARDON?, I shouted.

      And for those less masochistic of you who decided to skip to just the
      setlist, it is as follows (as far as I know):-

      1. Hamp's Boogie
      2. I'm Gone
      3. Avenue C
      4. Out of This World
      5. What Goes Around
      6. [Albert Adams?? song] (Jools -jazzy upbeat instrumental on piano)
      7. Mr Robert's Roost
      8. The Hand That Changed Its Mind
      9. Dr Kildare theme ('Three Stars Will Shine Tonight')?
      10. [unknown Ruby Turner song-'My man is a country man.'??]
      11. Nobody But You (Ruby Turner)
      12. Snowflake Boogie
      13. Teardrops in My Eyes
      14. Town and Country Rhythm and Blues (Chris Difford)
      15. Take Me I'm Yours (Chris Difford)
      16. Danger Man
      17. Shake Rattle and Roll
      18. T-Bag Scuffle
      19. Count Me In (Ruby Turner)
      20. Together We Are Strong (Sam Moore & Sam Brown)
      21. Tuxedo Junction
      22. Grey to Blue
      23. Well Alright (Sam Moore, Ruby Turner, Sam Brown etc)
      24. Valentine Moon
      25. Dreams (Jimmy Cliff)
      26. Honeydripper

      If anyone actually read all of this, do tell your boss that you're allowed
      to have the next week off to get over the strain.

      --Tia in London

      'Even the longest night will lead you to daylight.' - Ron Sexsmith
    • amy maggs
      What a great review !! i think that deserves to be put into Groovy news !!! ( hey you might take up the whole newsletter, but there we go) You never know you
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 1, 2002
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        What a great review !! i think that deserves to be put into Groovy news !!! ( hey you might take up the whole newsletter, but there we go)

        You never know you could win some tickets so you are able to go to 2 gigs rather than 1 !!!

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